Can You Clean a Boat with Bleach Including Fiberglass and Vinyl Seats?

Can You Clean a Boat with Bleach Including Fiberglass and Vinyl Seats?

If you are really in a hurry and have to clean your boat you can use bleach in that case. You may be questioning how effective and safe bleach can be for a fiberglass boat and vinyl seat.

For your information, it is not super effective at times. If you want to use it as a cheap shortcut, it is appropriate in that case, but for long-term use, it is not at all effective. Bleaches do not contain good quality chemicals and thus it can cause major rust and damage on the gel coats of the fiberglass, can decrease the effectiveness of the threads of the vinyl, affect the vinyl boat wraps, discolor them, fade the color away, and can also cause rust and corrosion to the fitting and fixtures.

Well, that is really a short and crisp answer and you may be wondering if you need a detailed explanation about how to clean fiberglass, panels, and seats with bleach cleanser. So here it goes:

Table Of Contents

Cleansing the boat seats using bleach cleanser

Vinyl boat seats get easily rusted and dusted. It is really hard to clean if it is not done effectively. Most of the boat owners have faced mold on their vinyl. So now the same question concerns, that is it safe to clean boat seats with bleaches.

For that my suggestion would be a clear no. I mean yes of course you can use bleach to clean the seats but it is not safe most of the time.

Now you may be questioning my repudiation about the fact as you may be practicing cleansing by diluting the bleach with water, but believe me, it is not very safe. If you continue cleaning the boat seats with bleach cleanser, soon you will find that your seats have started decaying. 

Bleaches leave stains on the seats which cannot be removed later, so you may need to end up changing the seats at times. There are various other things available for cleaning the boat seats. I would recommend you with one named “Magic Eraser”. It is much more effective and you will get long-term results.

Also Read:How to store a pontoon boat without a trailer?

Can you clean a fibreglass boat using bleach?

Once I had a pontoon boat. I was looking for methods to clean. Someone suggested using bleaches. I was not at all convinced. I searched on the internet about methods that I can adapt to clean the fiberglass boat. There I found a site suggesting to use bleaches along with half a cup of dishwashing liquid mix them in a bucket of water and use a sponge for cleaning the fiberglass.

They also recommended a few safety measures like ” Cover your hand with rubber gloves” and many more. They also assured a positive result but I was still not fully convinced about the idea as I feared that the dishwashing liquid can cause damage to the wax strips and the coatings. However, I took the risk and used dish wash along with bleach to clean the fiberglass and I was blown away by seeing the result!

The Gelcoat looks super shiny as new.

However eventually with time, I faced a few consequences like the rust on metals and the wax coming off but the consequences were worthy to bear. 

Later I learned that using bleaches damage the fiberglass in the long run as bleach and fiberglass do not even mix. For that, I carried out an experiment by soaking the fiberglass in bleach water and in another solution containing marine cleaning products and water.

After two weeks I found the fiberglass soaked in bleach water was completely damaged and worn out. Eventually, I learned that bleaches can be super effective in the short time uses but they can cause severe loss in the long run.

Cleaning boat

Bleaches affecting the environment

Bleaches are severe chemicals that can cause adverse effects on the environment. A large amount of bleach water is used to clean the board seats and the fiberglass finally drains into the ocean and seas killing multiple marine species. This will lead to severe environmental damages and lead global warming. So, you should always try to use organic products to clean the boats and prevent severe environmental damage.

Cleaning a boat without bleaches

However, you may be thinking about what to use to clean the boat as I have suggested to you all, that not to use bleaches. Here are a few methods and tips that I will suggest, which you can use to clean the boat seats and the fiberglass.

  • You must try to clean the boat regularly with normal running water. It is tiring, I know! But it will help you in the long run as you can finally avoid using soap or any kind of cleansing detergents to clean the boat and which will help to save your time as well as save the environment from the exposure of harmful chemicals.
  • You shall try to use protective and good quality boat wax as it reduces the chances of dirt and grease getting stuck. This also increases the longevity of the boat. Moreover, exposure of boat wax to chemicals eventually reduces its terms, Thus, try avoiding the chemical products.
  • You can use sprays instead of making a solution with water, in order to clean the boat seats and fibreglass. This causes less environmental damage. You can use a rag or a piece of cloth to clean it instead of using runoff water.
  • You must try to clean your boats at places away from the sea and in the place where most wastes are dumped. This will eventually save the water from getting polluted.


Using bleaches can be a great method of cleaning if you are really in a hurry. Moreover, washing with a mixture of dishwashing detergent and bleaches can give real shine to your boat. But I would never suggest you use it for the long term. 

It can cause serious damage to your boat which you will realize later in the long run. It may be an affordable method of cleaning, yet I have suggested easier methods up there which will cost you more labor but you will eventually realize how effective it is I hope the shine of the boat being washed with bleaches, does not bleach your vision and you choose the correct method of cleaning your boats.

Bleaches are dangerous chemicals that may cause adverse effects on the environment. So being a responsible citizen you must adopt methods to avoid environmental degradation and help to make the earth a happy place to live in.

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